Posted on 01/09/2020 at 11:26 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

The Romance Writers of America has just released a statement about further reforms, including key resignations.

President Damon Suede’s offer to step down, effective immediately, has been accepted, while Executive Director Carol Ritter has resigned but will remain on in support of the leadership transition.

These are the latest developments in an ongoing controversy about inclusivity in the RWA; they come just days after a petition seeking Suede's exit was delivered to the RWA offices and after the group announced it would cancel its 2020 RITAs because so many authors and RWA members had withdrawn from the contest.

The turmoil goes back before Christmas, when the RWA suspended author Courtney Milan for a year and banned her for life from holding a leadership position, based on an ethics complaint filed by two writers who called Milan a bully because she had described one of their books as a "racist mess."

The uproar following this move — including complaints that a secret ethics committee was formed just for this matter, mass resignations by board members, and public criticism by big-name authors — caused the RWA to backtrack, rescind its vote, and announce an “independent audit” of the matter.

Today's statement from the RWA included promises to hire an independent law firm to audit the ethics complaint, with findings to be shared with RWA members; to hire a diversity, equity and inclusion consultant; and to evaluate and possibly revamp the awards format.

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